The Catholic Church’s strong-worded response came few hours after the Vatican Ambassador to Sri Lanka met the Foreign Minister…REBy Susitha Fernando
Sri Lanka’s Catholic Church on Wednesday turned down the government’s invitation to discuss the Easter Sunday attacks and demanded a credible investigation into the massacre and implementation of the Presidential Commission recommendations first.
The Archbishop of Colombo, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith’s spokesman, Fr. Cyril Gamini, responding to Foreign Minister G.L. Peiris’ request for a meeting with the Church leaders, said: “Government must first display the credibility of its investigations on the Easter Sunday attacks and it should be done in a transparent and honest manner.”
“Until that happens, we cannot have a meeting,” he said.
The Catholic Church’s strong-worded response came few hours after the Vatican Ambassador to Sri Lanka met the Foreign Minister and talked about arranging a meeting with the Church and the government.
Fr Gamini said Cardinal Ranjith had insisted that the Church and the entire Sri Lankans should get an impression of a credible investigation by the government on 2019 Easter Sunday terror.
“To develop confidence, the government must implement the recommendation of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into the Easter Sunday attacks,” the Church spokesman said.
He alleged that instead of building confidence in the government, some of the responses by legal officials of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s office and the Inspector General of the Police to the Catholic Church’s demand for justice, have damaged it further.
Apostolic Nuncio to Sri Lanka, Archbishop Brian Udaigwe, on Wednesday met Foreign Minister Peiris who had informed about a meeting with the Catholic Church on the investigations into the attacks on three churches and three hotels, that left 269 people dead and over 500 injured. The IS later claimed the responsibility for the attacks carried out on the Easter Sunday morning on almost simultaneously by a group of local suicide killers.
Last month, the Catholic Church had accused certain military intelligent officials having connection with the Easter Sunday bombers and charged that local security agencies ignored detailed information including the date about the attacks passed by Indian intelligent agencies.
Cardinal Ranjith complained about a link between certain military intelligent members and suicide bombers that was revealed during the Presidential Commission of Inquiry. He alleged the government had not investigated on it but kept it a secret.
Signed by eight bishops, including Cardinal Ranjith and some other Catholic priests, the Church also had sent a 20-page letter to President Rajapaksa over allegations that state intelligence agencies were in contact with the suicide bombers. The letter also had demanded action against former President Maithripala Sirisena and former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe for their “soft approach” towards Islamic terrorism.
The government had indicted 25 accused who were charged on 23,270 counts including massacre and the multiple attacks on the Easter Sunday 2019 and a trial-at-bar has been appointed.
However referring to the indictment, Cardinal Ranjit had claimed that 25 accused could be “smaller fish”, and accused the government of not taking steps to identify the big fish, still at large.
Marking 28 months since the attack, the Church on August 21 led a protest requesting all Sri Lankans to raise a black flag on their houses and vehicles.